Guidance

Carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event

Guidance for organisations setting out which venues and events must use the NHS COVID Pass, or equivalent proof of vaccination or testing, as a condition of entry, and how to operate the scheme.

Applies to England

Change of rules on 27 January

From 27 January it will no longer be mandatory for venues to require attendees to demonstrate their COVID-19 status. However, events and venues will be able to make the decision to voluntarily check the COVID-19 status of attendees and staff through the NHS COVID Pass.

COVID-19 status – what this means

Throughout this guidance, valid COVID-19 status means any of the following apply:

  • a person is vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine) – we will keep this under review as boosters are rolled out
  • they have taken a PCR or rapid lateral flow test within the last 48 hours
  • they are exempt on the basis of an approved medical exemption or clinical trial participation

Accepted proof can be any of the following:

  • the NHS COVID Pass
  • an approved international equivalent
  • a valid text or email confirmation of a recent test result

Full details are set out below.

This guidance applies to England. Scotland and Wales operate their own schemes on mandatory COVID-19 status checks.

If you are aged 18 or over, to enter certain venues and events in England you must have proof of one of the following:

  • you are vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine) – we will keep this under review as boosters are rolled out
  • you have taken a PCR or rapid lateral flow test within the last 48 hours – to strengthen the protection testing provides you should take tests as late as possible before attending the event, ideally within 12 hours
  • you are exempt on the basis of a medical exemption or clinical trial participation

People who live in England can show their NHS COVID Pass to prove they’re vaccinated, have completed a negative PCR test or negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours, or are exempt. People from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey or Guernsey can show their COVID-19 status proof, which will be recognised in England.

People who were vaccinated in another country can show alternative proof of vaccination if this is accepted at the UK border.

A valid text or email confirmation from NHS Test and Trace can also be used as proof a person has completed a negative PCR test or negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours.

The NHS COVID Pass no longer gives details of natural immunity for entering certain venues and events. Proof of natural immunity cannot be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or a recent test.

It is also strongly advised that you apply COVID-19 status requirements for customer-facing workers at your venue or event. Read the ‘Expectations for workers at your venue or event’ section below. There is also separate guidance for workers.

For more information on what the NHS COVID Pass is, how to get one and how to use it, read our separate guidance for the public.

Who this guidance is for

This page is for organisations (event organisers, venues, businesses) that are now required to use COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry.

A venue or event’s ‘responsible person’ is responsible for making sure the rules set out below are followed and organisations meet their legal responsibilities.

Read separate guidance for workers at venues or events now advised to use COVID-19 status checks here, including employees, other staff and volunteers, and people providing services to the event or venue.

Who is the ‘responsible person’

Each venue or event will have a responsible person who must comply with a number of obligations relating to the requirement to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. This person should check where responsibility for data protection lies in their organisation.

You are the responsible person for a nightclub, dancehall, or discotheque, or other venue open after 1am with alcohol, music and dancing, if you are the venue manager.

You are the responsible person for an indoor or outdoor sports stadium, conference centre or exhibition hall or any public hall, live music venue, theatre or concert hall, which meets the relevant thresholds, if you are the venue manager.

The event organiser is the responsible person for:

  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • any events with 10,000 or more attendees

If you are hiring out your venue for an event, you should discuss proof of vaccination or test requirements with the event organiser. If there is no event organiser, compliance with mandatory proof of vaccination or test requirements is the responsibility of the manager of the premises where the event is held.

Overview of the rules

This is a brief overview of the rules. More detail is given in the sections that follow.

Venues and events that must carry out COVID-19 status checks

Venues and events where the NHS COVID Pass, or alternative proofs of COVID-19 status, must be used as a condition of entry are:

  • nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques
  • other late night dance venues, where all of the following apply:
    • the venue is open between 1am and 5am
    • it serves alcohol after 1am
    • it has a dancefloor (or space for dancing)
    • it provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as music venues with standing audiences or large receptions
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event, such as outdoor festivals
  • events with 10,000 or more attendees, whether indoor or outdoor, such as large sports and music events

Exemptions to these rules apply, see below.

What organisations must do

Organisations must take reasonable steps to make sure that all visitors aged 18 or above show an NHS COVID Pass, or approved proof of vaccination, testing, or an exemption, to enter the venue or event.

Evidence of natural immunity must not be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or testing.

Expectations for workers

COVID-19 status checks are not mandatory for workers, but organisations should take reasonable steps to make sure that all adults working or providing services (as an employee, contractor or volunteer) in customer-facing roles show evidence of one of the following:

  • a valid NHS COVID Pass
  • an acceptable alternative proof of either vaccination, clinical trial participation, or medical exemption, for example, international equivalents accepted at the UK border
  • an alternative proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, for example, text or email confirmation from NHS Test and Trace

Venues and events that must carry out COVID-19 status checks

The following venues and events are required to use the NHS COVID Pass (or alternative accepted proofs of COVID-19 status) as a condition of entry.

Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques

All nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques must use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.

Other late night dance venues are also required to use the NHS COVID Pass. Late night dance venues are defined as any venue where all of the following apply:

  • the venue is open between 1am and 5am
  • it serves alcohol after 1am
  • it has a dancefloor or space for dancing
  • it provides music, whether live or recorded, for dancing

There are some situations where nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and other late night dance venues do not have to use the NHS COVID Pass. These are:

  • if a venue operates an outdoor event, and there are fewer than 4,000 attendees at any one time
  • nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques which close their dancefloor, or cease to provide music
  • if a venue is only hosting dance or exercise classes, ballroom dancing, or amateur or professional dance performances
  • if a venue is hosting an event which is exempt from using the NHS COVID Pass, for example a wedding or civil partnership ceremony – a full list of exempt events can be found below
  • other late night dance venues when operating outside of the hours of 1am to 5am, or which close their dancefloor, cease to provide music, or cease serving alcohol between the hours of 1am and 5am

Nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques are required to check the COVID-19 status of visitors at all times, unless hosting an exempt event.

If you operate a venue in the category of other late night dance venue, you must take reasonable measures to make sure that all visitors who are present in your venue between the hours of 1am and 5am have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence), even if they entered the premises before that time.

Venues can choose what measures to put in place, and whether checks should begin from either:

  • the time the venue opens
  • the time the rules apply (from 1am)

Whichever option is chosen, you must make sure you’ve taken reasonable steps to make sure that all visitors who are in the venue between the hours of 1am and 5am have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence), even if they entered the premises before that time.

Example

A bar is open throughout the day and stays open later than 1am. It meets the criteria for mandatory use of the NHS COVID Pass (because it provides music and a dancefloor, serves alcohol, and stays open later than 1am). The manager is not required to check the COVID-19 status of anyone who leaves the venue before 1am but must take reasonable measures to ensure that everyone who remains in, or enters, the premises after 1am has the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence).

The venue may choose to either:

  • check all visitors for the entire time it is open, both before and after 1am
  • check all visitors who remain in the venue immediately before 1am, and begin to use door checks on new entrants from this time onwards

Indoor events with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around and outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around

You must use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry at events where attendees are likely to stand or move around for all or part of the event and your event takes place:

  • indoors, in whole or in part, with 500 or more attendees in the indoor areas
  • outdoors, with 4,000 or more attendees

‘Moving around’ does not include moving to and from seats to access toilets or get food and drink (for example, going to a bar during an intermission), or to leave the event.

Example

A venue is hosting a relevant event indoors with 1,000 attendees.

If they are all seated in assigned seats for the duration of the event, this event does not need to use the NHS COVID Pass.

If only 400 attendees are seated in assigned seats for the duration of the event but the remaining attendees have standing tickets, 600 of the attendees are likely to stand or move around during the event. This whole event will need to use the NHS COVID Pass.

To determine whether the NHS COVID Pass will be required for your event, you will need to consider:

  • whether the activity you are hosting is considered to be an event
  • whether your event is indoors or outdoors
  • whether the number of attendees expected to stand or move around at your event is likely to exceed the relevant threshold at any one time

Events which may be subject to mandatory COVID-19 status checks (if they meet these thresholds) include:

  • entertainment or performance events
  • sporting events
  • celebrations and social events
  • conferences, trade shows, presentations, business exhibitions, receptions and award shows

Assessing if your event is indoor or outdoor

An event is considered to be indoors if all or part of the event takes place in a venue which would be considered to be enclosed or substantially enclosed for the purposes of The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 .

Venues are enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof; and are permanently or temporarily enclosed (not including windows or doors).

Venues are substantially enclosed if they have a ceiling or roof but there is either:

  • an opening in the walls
  • a combined area of openings in the walls which is less than half of the area of the walls

In theatres or sport stadia with seating, terraces or other standing areas which are covered or partly covered by a roof and which open on to an uncovered pitch, court, track or stage, these areas are to be treated as outdoors for the purposes of determining whether you must use the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted proof of COVID-19 status) as a condition of entry. This means that the bowl of a stadium or a performance area in the open air would be treated as outdoor areas of these facilities.

Example

An event taking place in an outside area with no roof or walls in the garden of a stately home would be considered to be outdoors, even if attendees need to walk through the indoors of the home to reach the event, or if indoor toilets are provided.

If a venue consists of both indoor and outdoor areas, excluding access corridors, facilities and entrances in sports stadia, you are required to take reasonable measures to ensure that COVID-19 status checks are carried out on all attendees if any of the thresholds are reached in the indoor area. For example, you may need to check the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence) of every attendee (indoors and outdoors) if:

  • there are more than 500 attendees expected to stand or move around in indoor areas at any one time
  • there are more than 4,000 attendees expected to stand or move around across both indoor and outdoor areas at any point in time
  • there are 10,000 or more total attendees

Example

An outdoor festival hosts 3,000 attendees and would not normally need to request the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, as it is below the thresholds for an event. However, the festival includes a large indoor marquee where it is anticipated that more than 500 attendees, who are likely to stand or move around, will be at any point in time. The event must therefore require all attendees to have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence).

Example

You are the responsible person for a horse racing event with, for example, 3,700 people standing and moving around outside. You also host an indoor corporate hospitality lounge with 400 people expected to stand or move around at any point in time. Because the venue where the event is being held is partly indoor and partly outdoor, and there are more than 4,000 people in total in the event, everyone attending your event must demonstrate their COVID-19 status to enter.

Assessing whether the number of attendees expected to stand or move around at your event exceeds the relevant threshold

For events with under 10,000 attendees, when assessing whether the number of attendees at your event exceeds the relevant threshold, you should only consider attendees who will be expected to stand or move around for all or part of the event. Attendees should not be counted as expected to stand or move around if:

  • they remain seated for the duration of the event apart from leaving their seat to use toilet facilities, or to get food or drink
  • they are assigned a seat when booking or when they arrive at the venue and they choose to stand next to their assigned seat for the duration of the event
  • they only leave their seat to leave the event

Those working or providing services at your event or venue (for example employees, performers, athletes, or suppliers) should not be counted when calculating the numbers of attendees in relation to the attendee thresholds.

However, they should still have proof of vaccination, exemption, or a negative test if they are likely to come into contact with the general public (see the section ‘Advice for workers at your venue or event’ below for more details).

If a sport participation event takes place at a venue which requires COVID-19 status checks, those participating in the sporting activity are not required to prove their COVID-19 status. Other attendees, like spectators, will be subject to COVID-19 status checks. Workers at the venue (including referees or other officials providing their services) should not be counted towards the thresholds and are not subject to COVID-19 status checks.

Individuals attending a business event as part of their work (for example a delegate at a conference) should be counted towards the number of attendees in relation to these thresholds and must be subject to COVID-19 status checks to enter (showing that they are vaccinated, have recorded a recent negative test result, or are exempt) if the relevant threshold is reached. Those working at a business event, for example contractors such as bar staff or stallholders, should not be counted towards the attendance thresholds but should show their COVID-19 status as workers if they have a customer-facing role.

COVID-19 status checks are only required if the total number of attendees expected to stand or move around exceeds the relevant standing threshold at any point in time. You are not required to use the COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry where the number of attendees at all points in time is fewer than these thresholds, even if the total number of attendees over the full duration of the event exceeds them.

Example

If 8,000 people visit an outdoor event over 4 days, but there are never 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around at any point in time, the NHS COVID Pass is not required.

Example

If 1,000 people attend an indoor event over the course of the day, but the venue caps attendance at 499 attendees expected to stand or move around at a time and implements a one-in-one out policy, the NHS COVID Pass is not required

Example

You have organised an indoor music concert with 1,000 attendees. 600 of the attendees are standing and 400 have assigned seating. The total number of standing attendees at your event exceeds the 500 threshold for an indoor event, therefore you must take reasonable measures to ensure that all 1,000 attendees have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence), not just those in the standing section.

Example

You are the venue manager for an outdoor football match with fewer than 10,000 attendees and assigned seating. People may stand up by their seat during the game, and may leave their seat to go to the bar, food outlets and toilets, but are otherwise expected to stay at their assigned seat. You are not required to use COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry to this event.

Example

You are the venue manager for a football match that hosts 4,100 attendees in designated standing terraces, expected to stand or move around. You are required to use the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted international evidence) as a condition of entry to this event.

Example

You are the manager of a school premises with 800 pupils and you rent out your hall to an event for 600 adults during the school day. The event organiser must take reasonable measures to ensure that attendees at the event have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted international evidence), but not for the pupils in the school, even if they are attending the event in the hall. All those under 18 do not need to show their COVID-19 status or proof of age.

The thresholds apply to the number of attendees at your event, rather than the capacity of your venue. If the capacity of the venue meets or exceeds these thresholds, and you are not taking reasonable measures to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, you would be required to take reasonable measures to ensure that the number of attendees remains below the relevant threshold and to demonstrate you have done so.

Reasonable measures could include counting the number of attendees entering the venue, or pre-issuing tickets, and ensuring these are below the relevant threshold.

Example

You are the responsible person for a rugby league event, which has tickets on sale at the gate. The capacity of standing areas at your venue is 6,000. You do not anticipate this number of attendees to be standing or moving around and you choose not to request the NHS COVID Pass from attendees. However, you must take steps to ensure that you do not reach 4,000 attendees, who are expected to stand or move around, by counting the number of tickets sales at the gate and refusing any further ticket sales as you reach 3,999 tickets sold.

If you are responsible for an event below the threshold that is held in the same premises at the same time as other events (whose combined attendance meets these thresholds) you must consider whether attendees at your event are separated from those attending other events when determining whether thresholds have been met. If attendees at your event are not kept separate from attendees at other simultaneous events – excluding shared facilities – and the combined attendance meets the thresholds, then the NHS COVID Pass is required for all attendees at all events. This excludes shared entrances or exits, walkways, stairwells, lifts and toilets.

Example

You are the organiser of a sports awards event and you have sold 300 tickets for attendees who are expected to stand or move around. Your event is being held in a conference centre which hosts 2 other events, each with 200 attendees expected to stand or move around, that run simultaneously. All 3 events share the same buffet and refreshment facilities. As the event organiser, you are required to take reasonable measures to ensure that all of the attendees of your event have the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted international evidence). However, if the attendees are kept separate, without sharing buffet facilities, the attendee thresholds will not be met and you will not need to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry.

Events with 10,000 or more attendees

As a responsible person for any event with 10,000 or more attendees at any point in time, you are required to request the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. This is the case regardless of whether your event is indoor or outdoor, or if attendees are seated or expected to stand or move around.

This is likely to include large festivals and events which take place in stadia and large arenas.

Example

You are the responsible person for a football match at a stadium attended by more than 10,000 attendees. You must use the NHS COVID Pass regardless of whether attendees are seated or expected to stand or move around or whether the event is considered to be indoors or outdoors.

Exempt activities

COVID-19 status checks are mandatory for venues such as nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques, and late night dance venues, regardless of whether they are hosting an event or how many people are attending. For other venues (such as indoor or outdoor sport stadia, conference centres and exhibition halls, live music venues, theatres and concert halls), COVID-19 status checks are only required where they are hosting an event which meets the relevant attendee threshold.

Activities in other hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs, do not have to use COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry unless either of the following apply:

  • someone rents the venue (or part of the venue) to host an event which meets the criteria for mandatory use of COVID-19 status checks
  • the venue hosts an event which meets the criteria for mandatory use of COVID-19 status checks, and which is ticketed or paid for

The following settings do not need to apply COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry, unless they are holding an event that meets the criteria for venues or events requiring mandatory use of checks:

  • museums or art galleries
  • theme parks and fairgrounds
  • other tourist, heritage, or cultural sites (including zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens)
  • recreation and leisure facilities (such as bowling alleys, amusement arcades and bingo halls)
  • sport and physical activity facilities (such as gyms, swimming pools, and skating rinks)
  • play areas or centres
  • casinos
  • cinemas
  • transport hubs and public transport
  • retail, including markets, shops, shopping centres, and supermarkets

Schools, Further Education providers and Higher Education providers are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass, unless they are holding a specific event (such as a reception or concert or party) that meets the attendance thresholds. Where applicable, schools should follow guidance on mandatory certification for events.

Under 18s to not have to show their COVID-19 status but should be counted towards attendance thresholds. Schools, Further Education providers and Higher Education providers should not use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry for education or related activities such as exams or teaching, or extra-curricular activities, or any other day-to-day activities that are part of education or training.

Example

You are the responsible person for a pub which has music, but no dancefloor or space for dancing. You are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, as long as you do not hold a specific event that meets the attendance threshold of 500 or more people who are standing, such as a ticketed gig.

Example

As the responsible person for an art gallery, you are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry for those attending your exhibitions. However, if you are holding a concert or a drinks reception at the art gallery with 500 or more standing attendees, you would be required to use the NHS COVID Pass.

Exempt events

If you are responsible for one of the following events, you are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass, even if the attendance thresholds are met:

  • communal worship
  • wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and equivalents (including alternative wedding ceremonies)
  • receptions celebrating a wedding or other significant life event (like a christening, bar and bat mitzvah or mehndi ceremony) that are organised by an individual (and not a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution or a public body).
  • funerals and commemorative events (except where commemorative events are held in a nightclub)
  • outdoor events in public spaces where these are unticketed and not charged for (such as markets, street parties, protests and carnivals)
  • events in private houses (including private gardens) where people do not have to pay or hold a ticket to enter

If you are responsible for sport participation events, which are held in outdoor public spaces and spectators do not have to buy a ticket or pay to enter/watch the event, you are not required to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. Different rules apply if the event takes place in a venue which requires certification (see the section ‘Venues and events that must carry out COVID-19 status checks’, above, for more information.) Anyone participating in an organised sporting event is always exempt from the requirement to show the NHS COVID Pass.

Example

You are an organiser of a marathon which takes place on public roads, and has more than 4,000 spectators along the route (who did not pay to join the spectator area). You are not required to check the NHS COVID Pass of attendees.

You are also not required to use COVID-19 status checks at protests where these take place in outdoor public spaces and are not ticketed or charged for.

If you are a responsible person for a venue or an event in which a wedding ceremony is being held, you will not be required to check the NHS COVID Pass of attendees. However, wedding receptions (and receptions celebrating other significant life events) which meet all of the following criteria will be required to use the NHS COVID Pass:

  • the reception meets the attendance thresholds for certification, either by being attended by 500 or more people in the case of indoor events or by 4,000 or more in the case of outdoor events, and those attendees are expected to stand or move around for all or part of the event
  • the reception is organised by a person or organisation operating in a professional capacity
  • the reception is not held in a private dwelling

If the wedding ceremony and the reception are combined and proof of vaccination, testing, or exemption is required at the reception, attendees are required to have proof of COVID-19 status for the combined event.

If you are a couple organising your own wedding reception, you would not be required to operate COVID-19 status checks.

Example

You are an owner of a hotel. A couple, who are getting married, hire a large function room from you. The couple are organising the ceremony and reception for their own wedding. The ceremony takes place in a church in the morning and the reception, with over 500 attendees, takes place in your function room. The wedding ceremony is exempt as it is separate from the reception. As the couple are the event organisers for their reception, and are not operating in a professional capacity, their reception would also not require use of the NHS COVID Pass.

Example

You are the responsible person for a wedding ceremony and reception. You have organised them in your capacity as a professional wedding planner. The ceremony takes place in one venue in the morning and a large reception takes place at another venue in the afternoon. The reception has over 500 attendees and takes place indoors with guests expected to move around during the course of the event. In this case, you must take reasonable measures to ensure that attendees have the NHS COVID Pass (or alternative proof of test result).

Example

You are the responsible person for a wedding ceremony and reception. You have organised them in your capacity as a professional wedding planner. The ceremony and reception take place in the same venue with no separation between them. There are more than 500 attendees at this event and it is indoors without assigned seats. In this case, this wedding would be required to use the NHS COVID Pass.

Carrying out COVID-19 status checks on a voluntary basis

Venues and events that do not have to request proof of vaccination can still opt to use the NHS COVID Pass, or other proofs, as a condition of entry voluntarily to reduce the risk of transmission at venues or events.

You should consider using the NHS COVID Pass if you operate a venue or event where individuals are likely to stand or move around or where individuals are in close contact, even if you are not legally obliged to.

You should consider how this fits with your legal obligations, such as health and safety and equalities legislation. The NHS COVID Pass can be used to check that attendees are fully vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine), have recently recorded a negative test result, or are exempt.

Settings where you should not ask people to demonstrate their COVID-19 status

There are some settings where COVID-19 status checks should not be used as a condition of entry. This is so everyone can access them. These include:

  • essential services such as hospitals or pharmacies
  • essential retailers such as supermarkets
  • public transport

You should not require attendees to prove their COVID-19 status if your setting falls into these categories.

Schools and other education settings should not use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry for education or related activities such as exams or teaching or extra-curricular activities or any other day-to-day activities that are part of education or training.

How you can carry out NHS COVID Pass checks at your venue or event

In settings where it is mandatory to use COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry, you are expected to take reasonable measures to ensure that all attendees aged 18 or above have the NHS COVID Pass (or approved international equivalent) or have valid proof that they have completed a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test within the past 48 hours.

Those relying on testing to prove their COVID-19 status are strongly advised to take tests as late as possible before attending the event, ideally within 12 hours, to strengthen the protection testing provides.

It is also strongly advised that workers aged 18 or above who come into contact with customers have the NHS COVID Pass (or approved international equivalent) or have valid proof that they have completed a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test within the past 48 hours

You should communicate these requirements clearly with your customers, so they know what to expect when visiting your venue. This could include notifying customers of the requirement to show their NHS COVID Pass on your promotional materials and website, informing those who make telephone enquiries or adding the information to tickets, as well as providing information on the steps required to comply with entry requirements.

As a responsible person of a venue or event, you must take reasonable measures to ensure that only attendees with the required NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted international evidence) or a negative test result enter your venue.

How to validate an attendee’s NHS COVID Pass

If you are checking passes using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app, as recommended, you will be processing personal data and therefore you will have obligations as a data controller under data protection legislation. See the ‘Data protection’ section at the end of this page.

You should check for proof of COVID-19 status through use of the free NHS COVID Pass Verifier app wherever possible to ensure passes are valid and have not expired and reduce the possibility of fraud. This provides the most secure verification of an NHS COVID Pass and passes from the rest of the UK and 62 countries that are part of the EU gateway, by scanning the 2D barcodes. The NHS COVID Pass can also be visually checked, but to reduce fraud we recommend the use of the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app. Text or email proofs of a recent test should be visually checked.

You’ll find full details on how to use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app on the NHSX website.

Carrying out visual checks

The NHS COVID Pass Verifier app is recommended to check the NHS COVID Pass. If you choose to not use the Verifier app, you’ll need to ensure that attendees’ NHS COVID Passes are checked visually for an expiry date and a shimmer animation that confirms a Pass is live and not screenshotted. You should check the online NHS COVID Pass where possible but can also check the wallet (which does not have a shimmer animation).

Read more information on anti-fraud measures.

Proof of a recent negative test result

Those not using the NHS COVID Pass and accessing settings by showing alternative proof of a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test taken within the past 48 hours must have reported their test result to NHS Test and Trace. They will then have received a text or email notification which should be checked as a condition of entry. A valid notification of a test result from NHS Test and Trace should include all of the following:

  • the name of the person who took the test
  • their age or date of birth
  • the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
  • confirmation that the test was either a polymerase chain reaction test or a lateral flow test
  • confirmation that the result of the test was negative

International attendees

Where attendees to your venue or event are international residents, you should accept certain vaccination proofs from other countries. If the vaccination proof is accepted at the UK border, you should accept it at your venue or event. For more information, read the guidance on approved COVID-19 vaccines and countries with approved proof of vaccination.

How you might safely manage the checking process

If you’re an event organiser, you might want to consider the following options to help safely manage your event and queues when checking the NHS COVID Pass at entry points:

  • setting up queueing systems and staggering arrival and departure times
  • having staff check the NHS COVID Pass away from entry points, where possible
  • scanning QR codes (found on customers’ COVID-19 status certificates) using the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app and visually inspecting where this is not possible
  • clearly communicating requirements ahead of arrival, and displaying signage which clearly explains what is expected from attendees to venues and events

Event organisers, venues and businesses should consider where a queue may interact with the public and engage with the local authority, owner or operator of the public space in order to manage queuing arrangements safely and effectively.

Reasonable measures you should take

The reasonable measures that venues must take should usually consist of COVID-19 status checks on all attendees before allowing entry.

Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques and other late night dance venues must carry out checks on every person before they can enter.

Cases of injury or risk of harm

However, you may allow people to enter to avoid injury or escape a risk of harm (for example, to address a medical emergency) without checking their COVID-19 status. This applies to all venues and events of all sizes.

Circumstances where spots checks are allowed

There are also other limited circumstances where it may not be reasonably possible for you to carry out COVID-19 status checks on all attendees at events where this is mandatory without endangering the safety of those attending the event or others. The overwhelming majority of events will check the COVID-19 status of all attendees.

Spot checks may be used in the following limited circumstances if it’s not reasonably possible to check proof of COVID-19 status for all attendees at these events:

1. The event is:

  • an indoor event with 500 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • an outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees expected to stand or move around
  • any event with more than 10,000 attendees

2. The majority of attendees are expected to arrive for a fixed start time, where entrants are likely to all arrive in a short space of time.

3. It is not possible to set up checkpoints away from the entry points, and carrying out a check on every person would lead to a crowd gathering outside the venue or event.

4. That crowd would either present a risk to the safety of the persons in the crowd, or to any other person, or provide a potential target for terrorist action – read more information on hospitality security considerations

In these circumstances, if it is not practical to check the NHS COVID Pass of all attendees, you must carry out an assessment of risk and determine the percentage of checks that can safely be carried out. The responsible person must submit this assessment of risk to apply to the relevant local authority at least 10 working days in advance of the event.

The local authority will either approve the measure, ask for alterations or reject the proposal thereby requiring the venue to conduct 100% checks. If the local authority replies less than 5 working days before your event then the spot check application will be treated as approved.

COVID status checks assessment tool

The responsible person can use the template below to complete the assessment of risk. They will then need to submit it to the relevant local authority.

COVID-secure venues: COVID status checks assessment tool (ODT, 39.7 KB)

COVID-secure venues: COVID status checks assessment tool (MS Word Document, 75.5 KB)

Exempt persons

Anyone under 18 years old is exempt from the requirement to have an NHS COVID Pass. You should not ask for proof of age for workers and visitors under the age of 18. Attendees under 18 years olds count towards attendance thresholds.

There are some other people who are exempt from mandatory use of the NHS COVID Pass. You are not required to request evidence of COVID-19 status from these people when they are operating in their official capacities. However, you should check that they are an exempt person. These include:

  • local authority officers and emergency services responders, including police officers, medical professionals, and fire fighters
  • a diplomat or someone working for an international organisation

Expectations for workers at your venue or event

You should continue to follow the guidance on working safely during coronavirus.

We recommend that workers, particularly those likely to come into contact with customers, are vaccinated, testing regularly or exempt.

You should make sure that adult workers who come into contact with members of the public have the NHS COVID Pass. Workers, in this context, may include employees, volunteers, self-employed, and those contracted to work at the venue or event.

You should make sure they are all either:

  • fully vaccinated with 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or one of the single-dose Janssen vaccine)
  • undertaking regular testing
  • exempt (for medical reasons or as a result of clinical trial participation in a COVID vaccine trial)
  • an exempt person (under 18 or conducting their official duties)

You do not need to record the reasons for a worker’s exemption.

Workers are able to use the same proofs of COVID-19 status as visitors, including the NHS COVID Pass.

When your workers should get tested

Tests taken no more than 48 hours before the start of their shift will be valid. To strengthen the protection testing provides tests should be taken as late as possible before starting a shift, ideally within 12 hours. The time the test was taken will be shown on the text or email showing the worker’s results.

If the worker is using the NHS COVID Pass as proof, this will show an expiry date.

A worker should take another test before the end of this window if they’re working for a consecutive period that is longer than 48 hours.

Example

As a venue manager, you have hired a worker from Monday to Saturday evening. This worker comes into contact with customers, is unvaccinated and not exempt. They should take a test no more than 48 hours before their Monday shift. They choose to take a test on the Monday morning, which covers them for Monday and Tuesday. They should take a further test on Wednesday morning as it is longer than 48 hours after their previous test. This will cover them for Wednesday and Thursday. They will need to take a third test in the morning, prior to their shift on Friday. They are now covered until the end of their working week.

How workers can order tests and report results

Workers can use tests they already have at home, order free rapid lateral flow tests online or get tests at no cost from a local pharmacy or community testing site.

They should report their test result, positive or negative, to have proof that they have completed it, to NHS Test and Trace. This can be done online at Report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result or by calling 119. If they report a negative result, they will then receive access to the NHS COVID Pass and a text or email confirmation of their result which can also be used as proof.

You should not use privately provided tests as proof of a negative test result

If a worker gets a positive test result, or has symptoms of COVID-19

If any of your workers do a rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site, and the result is positive, they must self-isolate straight away and follow the stay at home guidance. They should also check if people they live with need to self-isolate.

If any of your workers have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell) they must:

If any of your workers get a positive rapid lateral flow test result but do not have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, they should report their result and self-isolate. They do not need to take a follow-up PCR test unless:

  • they want to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment
  • they have a health condition that means they may be suitable for new COVID-19 treatments
  • they are taking rapid lateral flow tests as part of research or surveillance programmes, and the programme asks them to do so
  • they are an international arrival and have a positive day 2 rapid lateral flow test

They must self-isolate from the day their symptoms started or from the day they receive a positive test result if they do not have symptoms.

They can end their self-isolation on the sixth day of self-isolation following 5 full days isolating and 2 negative rapid lateral flow tests taken on consecutive days. The first rapid lateral flow test should not be taken before the fifth day.

The self-isolation period remains 10 full days for those without negative results from 2 rapid lateral flow tests taken a day apart. This is the law, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated.

If a worker gets an unclear test result

If a worker receives an inconclusive result, you should advise them to take further tests until they receive a conclusive result. Your workers can easily get free lateral flow device test kits from pharmacies or by ordering them online.

Checking your workers’ test results

The responsible person for the venue or event is strongly advised to deny entry to any workers who fail to provide proof of vaccination or a recent test. In practice, this means checking that the proof they have is valid. Workers are able to use the same proofs of COVID-19 status as visitors, including the NHS COVID Pass.

If attendees and workers cannot demonstrate their COVID-19 status

If any of your adult attendees fails to produce adequate proof of their COVID-19 status you must not allow them to enter your event or venue. If anyone tries to breach entry to your event, without having proof of COVID-19 status, you should take the appropriate action to ensure the safety and security of all at the event.

If any of your adult, customer-facing, workers fails to provide adequate proof of COVID-19 status where this is advised, you are strongly advised to not allow them to work at your venue or event until they have provided this evidence.

If you do not comply with your legal obligations in relation to carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks at your venue or event, local authorities can take enforcement action, including prosecution or issue of a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

There are various other enforcement tools that the local authority can use to ensure compliance. This includes issuing a Coronavirus Improvement Notice (CIN). This is often the first step that local authority enforcement officers use to require businesses to remedy unsafe practices. A CIN requires compliance by a date specified on the notice, which will be a minimum of 48 hours after issue. The date for compliance is determined by the local authority enforcement officer.

If you fail to comply with the CIN, your local authority can issue a Coronavirus Restriction Notice (CRN), which enables it to close all or part of your business, venue or event. This could also be used to restrict the number of attendees at your event. The notice will apply for 7 days. Following the 7 day period of application, the CRN can be withdrawn or allowed to expire if you’ve taken the necessary steps to remedy the unsafe practices identified. If the necessary steps have not been taken then a new CRN can be issued against the same business, venue or event.

Your local authority can alternatively use Coronavirus Immediate Restriction Notices (CIRN). This enables it to close the venue for an initial period of 48 hours. The local authority will be required to review the CIRN before it ends. It can be withdrawn or allowed to expire if you have taken the necessary remedial steps.

If necessary, a local authority could issue you with a CRN at the end of the 48 hours to close the venue for a further 7-day period. Alternatively, where it is concerned that the premises is causing a serious and imminent threat to public health, a direction can be issued under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020, provided that the legal tests are met. Read more information on the No. 3 Regulations.

If you fail to comply with any notice it is an offence and can result in a prosecution or issue of a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

The fixed penalty for a first offence would be £1,000 (if paid within 14 days of the date of the notice, this can be reduced to £500), £2,000 for a second offence, £4,000 for a third offence and £10,000 for the fourth and any subsequent offences.

You can appeal a CIN, CRN or CIRN to the magistrates’ court. Your appeal must be made in accordance with the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 and be made within the period of 28 days from the day on which the notice was issued or the review date. You cannot appeal a FPN, but can challenge it by way of judicial review in the administrative court.

What records you must keep

As a responsible person, you must produce, and keep up to date, a statement setting out the measures you will introduce to ensure that you are meeting the requirements of carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks, and that you are making the public aware of these measures. This should explain, where applicable, your spot check approach, if you have prior agreement from the local authority.

You must also retain records containing the following information on implementing the requirements of carrying out mandatory COVID-19 status checks:

  • the date of the event, or the date the records refer to for a venue
  • the number of people that attended the venue or event
  • where you have departed from your general policy statement of measures to meet certification requirements:
  • the reasons for adopting different measures
  • what measures were adopted
  • how an individual’s eligibility to enter the venue was checked
  • the number of occasions on which the reasonable measures you were taking to check COVID-19 status of attendees were varied from 100% checks by agreement with the local authority, and the number of people who were admitted on each such occasion
  • the number of occasions on which people were admitted to avoid injury or harm

If you are holding an event in a venue that has a capacity greater than the thresholds, but you do not use the NHS COVID Pass because you are not anticipating the number of attendees to meet or exceed them, you will need to produce a statement explaining how you intend to stay under the thresholds.

How long you must keep records for

You must maintain these records for 3 months from the date of the event or, for a venue, 3 months from the date to which the records refer. You must retain records of your general policy statement of measures to meet certification requirements for as long as the legislation on mandatory certification applies, and a further 3 months after it ceases to apply. Local authorities have powers to request these records or policy statements within 3 working days or as part of an inspection.

Recording personal data

You must not retain information from within the NHS COVID Pass, such as an individual’s name or COVID-19 status for members of the public who attend your venue or event.

Data protection

If you are responsible for a venue or event that requires mandatory COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry, data protection legislation will apply when you are processing personal data. You can find further information about looking after your customers’ personal data when completing COVID-19 status checks on the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office as well as information about complying with UK data protection legislation when carrying out workplace testing.

Information about when the UK GDPR applies and on customer and employee consent can be found on its Vaccination and NHS COVID Pass checks page.

The ICO has also published specific information for nightclub businesses and organisers of large events.

You must also comply with the law when processing any special category health data. Further information can be found on the ICO website.

Further information on the appropriate lawful basis for checking people’s COVID-19 status can be found in its guidance in Vaccination and COVID pass checks.

When you use the Verifier app for the first time, you will be asked to accept the terms and conditions. Read the Verifier app user guide on the NHS website for more details.

Data controller obligations and transparency

If you use the NHS COVID Pass Verifier app to scan an attendee’s NHS COVID Pass, as recommended, you will be processing personal data and therefore you will have obligations as a data controller under data protection legislation. A limited visual check of an NHS COVID Pass is not subject to data protection regulations.

If your venue or event requires mandatory use of the NHS COVID Pass, you should communicate clearly with your customers, so they know what to expect when visiting your venue. This also includes how their data will be handled. Further information about privacy information can be found in the ICO’s Right to be informed page.

You should not save any information about a customer’s COVID-19 status.

For more information, read:

Published 13 December 2021
Last updated 19 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'If a worker gets a positive test result' section to reflect change in self-isolation rules - people who test positive can stop self-isolating on day 6 if they have negative rapid lateral flow test results on days 5 and 6. Added a reference to the change in rules on 27 January, when it will no longer be mandatory for venues to check the COVID-19 status of attendees as a condition of entry.

  2. Updated the section 'If a worker gets a positive test result' to reflect that from 11 January, asymptomatic people in England with a positive lateral flow test are no longer advised to take a confirmatory PCR test to confirm they have COVID-19.

  3. Guidance updated to reflect changes to the self-isolation advice for people who have received a positive COVID-19 test result.

  4. Added COVID status checks assessment tool (ODT and Word versions). The responsible person can use the tool to complete the assessment of risk. They will then need to submit it to the relevant local authority.

  5. First published.